Proceedings

NPR- Poles Apart: Management Contributions, Lessons And Aspirations Of Poles And Other East Europeans Working In UK Agriculture

Dramatic political changes in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe during the 1980s, culminated in collapse of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. Following this, and EU accession in 2004, new opportunities opened for Poles and other East European citizens to work in UK Agriculture, and to experience entrepreneurship. Apparently, many were attracted initially by superior wages attainable through diligent hard work on British farms. Migrant labour, largely of East European origin, now accounts for almost 90% of the workforce engaged in fieldwork involved in field-scale vegetables, and a majority of dairy milkers and managers, particularly from Poland. In conjunction with research within the CEEC Agri-Policy Project, this paper seeks to contextualise focus research findings among a sample of expatriate Poles and others from Eastern Europe now working within UK Agriculture. Cohorts from within English field-scale horticulture and in the UK dairy sector were to be included. The dairy sector declined to respond, and the field-scale crop sector response was small. Coincidence of wide UK media coverage on immigrants working in the UK may have led some to fear a political agenda for this research rather than its purely managerial interest – on management contributions being given on UK farms, lessons being learned and aspirations for future work. Especially of interest is whether or not Poles intend to return to share their management experience for the benefit of Poland, in the context of projected rural depopulation and current agricultural land use trends there.

Keywords: management, lessons, aspirations, migration, change, enterprise

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Author(s): Wibberley, E.J.

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Organizations(s): Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester